175 Km Long Crack In Antarctic Ice Shelf: Largest Iceberg In Our Lifetime Is Possible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Plane flies along Antarctica’s giant Larsen crack

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has released new footage of the ice crack that promises to produce a giant berg.

The 175 km-long fissure runs through the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

If it propagates just 20km more, a block of ice a quarter the size of Wales will break away into the Weddell Sea.

Scientists gathered the new video while recovering instrumentation that had been placed on the ice shelf.

Uncertainty about the stability of the region means researchers cannot set up camp as they would normally do, and instead make short visits in a Twin Otter plane.

The most recent sortie enabled the researchers also to fly along the length of the crack, which is 400-500m wide in places, to assess its status.

No-one can say for sure when the iceberg will calve, but it could happen anytime.

At 5,000 sq km, it would be one of the biggest ever recorded.

When it splits, interest will centre on how the breakage will affect the remaining shelf structure.

The Larsen B Ice Shelf further to the north famously shattered following a similar large calving event in 2002.

The issue is important because floating ice shelves ordinarily act as a buttress to the glaciers flowing off the land behind them.

In the case of Larsen B, those glaciers subsequently sped up in the absence of the shelf. And it is the land ice – not the floating ice in a shelf – that adds to sea level rise.

If Larsen C were to go the same way it would continue a trend across the Antarctic Peninsula.

In recent decades, a dozen major ice shelves have disintegrated, significantly retreated or lost substantial volume – including Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller, Jones Channel, and Wilkins.

Dr Paul Holland from BAS commented: “Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow.

“However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C.

“We won’t be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behaviour of the remaining ice.”

The removal of the ice would also enable scientists to study the uncovered seabed.

When Larsen B broke away, the immediate investigation chanced upon new species.

Under the Antarctic Treaty, no fishing activity would be permitted in the area for 10 years.

The big bergs that break away from Antarctica are monitored from space.

They will often drift out into the Southern Ocean where they can become a hazard to shipping.

The biggest iceberg recorded in the satellite era was an object called B-15.

Covering an area of some 11,000 sq km, it came away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.

Six years later fragments of the super-berg passed by New Zealand.

In 1956, a berg of roughly 32,000 sq km – bigger than Belgium – was spotted in the Ross Sea by a US Navy icebreaker. But there were no satellites at that time to follow-up.

Many of the bergs that break away from the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica get exported into the Atlantic. A good number get caught on the shallow continental shelf around the British overseas territory of South Georgia where they gradually wither away.

The study of the Larsen C Ice Shelf is led by Swansea University through its MIDAS Project, which involves BAS.

South GeorgiaImage copyright THINKSTOCK
Image caption The remnants of many such bergs end up at South Georgia

[email protected] and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

Amaq – 24/7 News Agency Run by ISIS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Latest News, Middle East, World

Amaq – 24/7 News Agency Run by ISIS

Al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden, had used in the past recorded video and audio messages in far-off hideaway and sent them to international television networks by the aid of his supporters, in order to claim responsibility for the 11 September attacks, 2001.

Today, ISIS which plays the role of a well-known terrorist threat to the West, sponsors its very own Amaq news agency, issuing dispatches on a 24-hour news cycle by the use of mobile technology. ISIS claimed responsibility on Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels through the agency itself, stationing reports in two languages, consequently, in English and then Arabic in a detached journalistic style without images or statements from its leader.

Noting that the news agency is named after a Syrian town mentioned in an ancient prophecy; as the site for an apocalyptic victory over non-believers.

Very much aware of the propaganda value of outlining itself as a militant in an uneven struggle, Amaq stated that the attacks were part of a broader war with an international coalition.

Charlie Winter, a senior research associate at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said that Amaq is an effort to grab “information dominance” over enemies. The latter stated by phone, that the agency is being used as a part of a wider propaganda strategy in the first place, and also used for tactical and strategic gains, in the second place. Winter added that the group is “very keen on having a very centralized message.”

Initially, Amaq uses WordPress blogging platform to send out press releases and reports, however today the agency is willing to implement encrypted technology to evade ever-tighter monitoring of social media.

The agency, first appeared in late 2014 when ISIS was making an effort to take over the northern Syrian city of Kobani from its Kurdish defenders, part of an offensive that also saw the group establish a presence in large swaths of neighboring Iraq. Amaq also was the tool ISIS used to claim power over the couple responsible for the shootings last year in San Bernardino, California.

It can be said that he agency has played a leading role in rapidly moving the ISIS propaganda machine beyond the barrage of comments provided by supporters on social media.

News from different world target countries are covered by Amaq, for instance the agency carries reports on events from Libya and Iraq to the Philippines, in 4 languages covering Arabic, English, French and Russian. However, it abstains from publishing videos of beheadings and other graphic images of ISIS actions, which in other words deliver more intelligent messages, such as in its labeling of suicide bombings as “martyrdom operations.”

It’s referred to within the ISIS administration as an “auxiliary” media unit, said Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum based in Philadelphia. It tracks conflict and the provision of services in provinces the group rules, but isn’t branded with ISIS symbols.

“They’re a part of ISIS, a full part of the media strategy,” he said by phone, adding that it’s unclear who heads the operation and from where. An application developed by Amaq called Arawi, which means a storyteller or narrator in Arabic.

There are many others ways that are being adopted by ISIS to communicate with those who are supporters, including encrypted Telegram Messenger Service, prompting Telegram to remove multi-user “channels” that members complained were promoting the terrorist group.

ISIS adoption of new platforms could be a consequence of a crackdown by tech companies. Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis at Austin, Texas-based strategic advisory firm Stratfor, said that ISIS had a very strong presence on twitter until the site moved to reduce its presence.

Certain ISIS attempts to invent media portals have not been successful to attract big numbers of followers, as in the case of an attempted social-media network called Kilafahbook. However, its drive toward the latest technology did not stop. Following Brussels attacks the group called for “brothers in Belgium” to use encryption and “stay away from social media.”

It seems like ISIS has strong confident ambition that can go the encrypted route, and ironically so far it seems to be working, said Tricia Bacon, a professor of public affairs at American University in Washington and former State Department counter-terrorism official. As for Intelligence agencies, they don’t appear to have failed at some point and not had much success detecting electronic communications as ISIS plotted the attacks in Belgium or the earlier assault on Paris, she said.

“There’s going to be a lot of variation in who’s able to keep up and who’s not,” Bacon said. “Belgium has not been able to keep up, as evidenced by the attacks.”

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

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Belgium’s Main Criminal Lab Attacked

 

Belgium investigates attack on crime lab

ATTACKERS rammed a car through the gates of Belgium’s national crime laboratory yesterday in Brussels and then started a fire in what officials said may have been an attempt to destroy evidence.

Five people were arrested nearby but later released, while prosecutors said there was no confirmed link to terrorism so far. No one was injured in the fire or by a large explosion which shook houses nearby.

The incident comes as Belgium remains on high alert following suicide attacks on the capital’s airport and metro system in March which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“This location was not chosen randomly,” said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, adding that the institute deals with “sensitive information in connection with several ongoing cases.”

Prosecutors had opened an investigation into “deliberate arson of a building and damage by explosion,” while bomb disposal experts attended the scene. “The possibility of a terrorist act is not confirmed. It goes without saying that several individuals may have wanted to destroy evidence related to their legal cases,” Van Wymersch added.

She said that “several attackers forced their way into the institute using their car and were able to attack the building” and had apparently deliberately targeted the wing where the laboratories are located.

The incident happened in the early hours yesterday at the national criminology institute in Neder-Over-Hembeek, a northern suburb of Brussels, and near the famed Atomium tourist attraction.

Part of the building was scorched and burned out, while a burned out car was lifted from the scene by a crane. The institute is part of Belgium’s federal justice system. Among its tasks is carrying out forensic analysis for criminal cases. Belgium has been on high alert after suicide bombers struck Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters on March 22, killing 32 people.

Belgium: Catholic School Teacher’s Anti Jewish Cartoon Is Praised By Administration

(This story is courtesy of the Times Of Israel News Paper)

FIRST PERSON / I’ve seen how anti-Israel vitriol has mainstreamed classic anti-Semitism

How my reporting about an anti-Semitic cartoon changed my views of Belgium — for the worse

Luc Descheemaeker was denounced by UNESCO, Germany and the US, but his school says it’s ‘proud’

August 26, 2016
Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker posted this image to his Facebook page after it won a prize at Iran’s widely condemned Holocaust mockery cartoon contest om May 2016. (Facebook)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — I used to think I had a pretty good understandingof what it means to be Jewish in Belgium.

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A longtime observer of that polarized binational country, whose dysfunctions and successes often reflect those of the European Union headquartered in its capital, Brussels, I have family ties there and am fluent in the local languages.

But I had to readjust my understanding of Belgian Jewry’s circumstances this month while reporting on a local Catholic school’s stated pride in and support for a teacher who had published anti-Semitic caricatures, and who recently won a cash prize at Iran’s Holocaust mockery cartoon competition.

Shielded by education officials’ wall of silence and celebrated in mainstream Belgian media as a champion of free speech, Luc Descheemaeker was able to pass off anti-Semitic imagery as legitimate criticism of Israel in a way that I had thought impossible in an established Western democracy in the heart of Europe.

As Descheemaeker’s advocates circled the wagons around him — his school praised him as working to preserve, not distort, the memory of the Holocaust — I saw firsthand how anti-Israel vitriol has mainstreamed classic anti-Semitism in a country where Jews are leaving partly because they feel their children can no longer comfortably attend the public schools.

My Belgian eye opener began with a post on The New Antisemite blog, which tracks anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe. It said the vice director of the Sint Jozef Institute highschool near Antwerp had told a Belgian Jewish publication that she was “very proud” of Descheemaeker after he won $1,000 and a special mention at the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest in Tehran.

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker shared news of his prize at the Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest in May on his Facebook page. (Facebook)

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker shared news of his prize at the Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest in May on his Facebook page. (Facebook)

The winning entry by Descheemaeker, a plastic arts teacher who retired this year, was a drawing of the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” over Israel’s security barrier along the West Bank. The German sentence, which means “work sets you free,” was featured on a gate of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland.

Previously, I found, Descheemaeker had published at least two cartoons that used classically anti-Semitic imagery. In one, an Orthodox Jew waits to bludgeon a peaceful Arab baby and his mother with a giant Star of David. In another, the Jew is waiting to startle a jihadist who is holding a shopping bag while wearing an explosives vest — presumably so she blows herself up.

The Forum of Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region condemned Descheemaeker’s Arbeit Macht Frei cartoon as “an example of modern anti-Semitism” and his earlier work featuring depictions of Jews as “classically anti-Semitic.”

Additionally, the cartoon contest in which he participated was decried as anti-Semitic by UNESCO, Germany and the United States, among others.

And finally, comparing Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany is an example of anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – an intergovernmental organization with 31 member states, including Belgium.

I was skeptical of the blog’s report about the school’s endorsement of Descheemaeker because Western European educational institutions rarely seek to associate themselves with his brand of imagery.

Belgium has made discernible progress in recent years in coming to terms with the Holocaust-era complicity of its authorities and population. Surely, I thought, Descheemaeker would not get support and praise from a prestigious Catholic school there.

My first surprise was the reply I received from the school to my query over Descheemaeker. Yes, confirmed the school director Paul Vanthournout – “we are proud of Luc Descheemaeker,” though not, per se, over his winning the award in Iran or his cartoons, he said. Vanthournout declined to comment on these activities, which he said had nothing to do with Descheemaeker’s teaching position, but assured me that Descheemaeker “is not an anti-Semite.”

As proof, the school director cited an award that Descheemaeker won in 2002 from Belgium’s Queen Paola for staging a student show based on Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust memoir “Maus.”

I wanted to see whether the school can get away with defending the maker of blatant anti-Semitic imagery by claiming to be neutral on its celebrated teacher’s extracurricular activities. So I repeatedly queried the board of education, the royal house, the Queen Paola Foundation, the municipality where the school is located and Belgium’s federal center against discrimination. I received one written response, from the foundation, saying it had no comment for me.

This see-no-evil approach from government offices in a country whose leaders often declare a zero-tolerance attitude to anti-Semitism surprised me. But the real shock was the response from the Belgian media to JTA’s coverage of the affair.

De Morgen, one of Belgium’s largest and best-respected dailies, ran an article that omitted reference to Descheemaeker’s caricatures of Jews. It described the Iranian competition as a “controversial” affair “themed on the Holocaust,” which the paper said was instituted as a statement about freedom of expression following the publication of insulting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark.

(UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, had called the contest “a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people.”)

Descheemaeker, who is described in the paper as an internationally acclaimed caricaturist, is quoted as saying in reaction to the uproar created by his work: “There is still such a thing as freedom of expression.”

Knack, a popular news site, took the same editorial line.

(Descheemaeker did not respond to JTA requests for an interview sent through his school, on social media and via email.)

Confused, I reached out to Joel Rubinfeld, founder of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism and former president of the CCOJB umbrella group of French-speaking Belgian Jewish communities. I wanted to know whether Belgian education officials were more tolerant of expressions of anti-Semitism than their counterparts from other Western European countries.

Joel Rubinfeld, Director of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (Maryll Israel/JTA)

Joel Rubinfeld, Director of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (Maryll Israel/JTA)

“It’s a problem,” he said. “We’ve encountered a number of cases where schools did not take the necessary measures when Jewish pupils were targeted in anti-Semitic bullying, for example.”

A teacher who last year told a Jewish high school student, “We should put you all on freight wagons,” was allowed to keep his job following an internal inquiry. It ended with him apologizing while denying any anti-Semitic intent in the first place.

Cases involving anti-Semitic abuse among students are regularly ignored at Belgian schools, “which don’t apply the measures necessary to make these cases stop,” Rubinfeld said.

One student was forced to leave his public school and was enrolled in a private Jewish one last year following harassment, which included a threat to “break his skull” if he showed support for Israel. Also last year, the Belgian media reported on the online shaming by classmates of a pro-Israel high school student. He also left the public education system for a Jewish school.

As Belgian Jews continue to grapple with the anti-Semitism problem in their country — in 2014, a suspected jihadist was arrested for the shooting deaths of four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels — a growing number are deciding to look for a new home.

Last year, 287 Jews immigrated to Israel from Belgium, which has a Jewish population of about 40,000. It was the highest figure recorded in a decade. From 2010 to 2015, an average of 234 Belgian Jews made aliyah annually — a 56 percent increase over the annual average of 133 new arrivals from Belgium in 2005-2009, according to Israeli government data.

“In Belgium, the choice for Jews is often between abuse or ghettoization,” Rubinfeld said. “It’s not surprising that a growing number of Belgian Jews are finding alternatives to both.”

Belgian cartoonist Luc Descheemaeker posted this image to his Facebook page after it won a prize at Iran’s widely condemned Holocaust mockery cartoon contest om May 2016. (Facebook)
FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

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